For more than a year, I have been making a transition from corporate communications to education. I have been given an opportunity to be a computer teacher at an elementary school in Scottsdale, Arizona.
It’s an amazing time to be joining a profession that’s getting lots of attention. And scrutiny. From the recent schoolteachers’ walkout in Chicago, to the just out Nations Report Card, among others, the story is not exactly cheerful.
Meanwhile, as knowledge acquisition is moving an 120 miles-per-hour, pedagogy is ambling along. I can see this through the lens of our two children, as new engagement tools emerge, and curricula change. Analog classrooms are trying to adapt to digital natives. Britannica now has an app for the iPad and other tablets. Classrooms are being ‘flipped.’ We can’t continue to do the same old, same old.
If there’s a simple lesson plan for my career, it’s this: push students to the edges. Focusing on ‘core’ areas, but also widen the aperture. Knowledge of ‘computers’ without context of where they are used, is meaningless. Often it’s the topical things we introduce in class that make planned (not canned) lessons relevant. One study last year found that students who did “science-related activities that are not for schoolwork” performed higher.
TO KICK OFF, I re-positioned the computer class as a Technology and Computer Lab, in which students will engage in subjects from space exploration to search engines.
Being the school’s robotics coach helps. This is a program established by the FIRST Lego League. Students can step out of their comfort zone and take risks, even while engaging their math and design skills.
Each day, the lens zooms in and widens…